The romance of Sci-fi and graphic design

I have always hated unrealistic sci-fi movies or TV shows. I hated to see lights that blinked for no reason or a CG effect that was clearly artificial. On the other hand, some films, like The Alien movies bought me off quite easily and were perceived as genuine. Even though I still was aware I’m watching a fiction movie.


The connection between Sci-fi and innovation is of course, inevitable. After all, both share the same basic starting point. Both start with asking “what if?”

True visionaries, who want to create a disruptive game-changing invention might get a familiar response: that what they are describing “sounds like science fiction, not an invention…”

However, a more interesting fact is many times sci-fi creations actually did predict the future. The known examples are Jules Verne books which predicted the submarines or the landing on the moon, long before those were even imaginable.

In the 20th century, the human progress seemed to “catch up” with human imagination. Sci-fi movies and TV shows envisioned the mobile phone, video-chat and touch-screens. This may seem today as granted but a lot of these inventions were groundbreaking during their birth.

the original cell-phone

The gap of a coulpe of years is clear to see, most commonly by the “limited” or wrong visions of the future. For instance, in the 80’s, 2015 was depicted differently then what it’s actualy like because we put weight based on current technologies. Not just the inability to create a hoverboard.

You can find a lot of examples of movies that use “ancient” or dead technologies in their futuristic world here .

It’s easy to laugh but actually, the same can be said about most eras (this decade it could be touchscreens that wount be relevant in the future.)

Designing for a fiction world

The cinema industry has also changed through the years, and behind the movies we call Sci-fi there’s a lot of work which is not much different then the process of creating an innovative product.

The most quoted example is Minority report(2002) and its use of a motion driven interface. The concept was so innovative that people tried to develop it a couple of times.Whats really obviuos to UI designers is the exploration of UI in Sci fi movies, and whats called HUD(heads up displays). the exploration in these movies can be bold and braver then what you can achieve even in most startups.

But at the end of the day, isnt it just a movie, isnt its fake? what does it give us?

Minority report

I think it gives us a lot. The bottom line is, we as designers feed on inspirtaion, and these movies are filled with creative boundless thinking and problem solving(sometimes even found in fantasy movies)

For the inspiration and creative thinking part of the project these movies( or books) are highly recommended.

Worth mentioning

Another Tom cruise movie with a UI design process behind it:

We can use this process during design. Its important to think, what are our “limited concepts” where are we locked in a tunnel-vision, These days it can be a film that shows us a screenless UX world or an AR world

more places for inspiration can be games, or futuristic researches(like Yuval Harari .

At the end of the day nobody knows what tommorow will bring.

For further reading:

Minority Report and Prescient Technology

Originally published in Hebrew at my blog on May 7, 2016.